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New Mystery Science Theater 3000 is faaaaaaaaaaaaaanTASTIC.

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2016: The Year Videogames Made a Faustian Bargain to Be AWESOME While the World Died

This. Fucking. YEEEEEEEEEEEEAR. I think we can agree we ALL needed some escapes this year, and these were 10 of my favorites! Oh also: whole lotta text. TL;DR: get fucked, BOI!

List items

  • I am not what you would call "good" at FPSes. When playing Counter-Strike, Halo 2 or Day of Defeat at LAN parties (Old Man Corey talkin' 'bout LAN parties again), I was routinely in last place. I would routinely accidentally shoot people on my own team. My shoulder was punched many a time and this engendered in me a bitterness toward FPSes (except, oddly, Solider of Fortune 2 which I was always in the top 3 of). So when Overwatch was announced, I was disappointed. I like Blizzard a LOT as devs, but I don't have the time in my life for WoW and they dragged their feet too much on Starcraft 2's many expansions...this seemed like the nail in the coffin of my interest. Sure the characters were neat looking and positively OOZED personality, FPS, NO campaign/story mode? I'll pass...

    And then a strange thing happened...OTHER people who aren't any good at competitive multiplayer games started talking...RUMBLING, if you will...I listen to around 6 videogame podcasts (sorry ladies and gents, I'm HAPPILY married) and ALL of them couldn't stop talking about what a revelation Overwatch was. I bit the bullet and I have NEVER been happier I took a chance on a game.

    I play with friends, I play with randos, I play Arcade and Quick Matches (no competitive...I know my place) and I. Do. Well. I'm not spectacular, I'm rarely on fire, but you know what I am? Keeping your ass ALIVE or sped up with my sick beats! Freezing the enemy in place and picking them off one-by-one. Luring the enemy away from the objective with my quick teleports and shapely posterior! NOW THANK ME!

  • I played...SO MUCH Harvest Moon 64 on summer break in high school. So much. I played it for entire DAYS, breaking ONLY to use the bathroom and eat (again: ladies, fellas, I'm married. I know I'm just putting out SUCH a strong, desirable vibe, but I'm SORRY). I played it so much that Metallica's Ride the Lightning album is more closely associated with harvesting crops than than anything else in my mind. So unlike our favorite mayo-hating miscreant Dan Rykert, I actually saw Stardew Valley with some degree of skepticism. I hadn't had a truly fantastic Harvest Moon experience SINCE 64, and some of their choices were...ill-advised. But after seeing universal praise heaped upon it, and NEEDING a game to chill out with this year...I have not lost more time to a game in recent memory than this one. It's NOT Harvest Moon, they're actually not even THAT similar besides the WIDE swaths. It's so much grander than Harvest Moon. In that you plant grids of 8, you talk to people in addition to giving them gifts, and things move quickly. In Stardew Valley, you plant crops in the 10s and 20s. People won't warm to you simply because you talk to them, you'll go through whole days where you talk to NO ONE, and, of course, the mines are dark and full of terror.

    It's the MACRO to Harvest Moon's micro, but it doesn't sacrifice a single BIT of the personality that made me fall in love with those games. Every single citizen, from the shopkeep to the teacher to the blacksmith to the wizard (the game gets weird, okay?) have their own likes, dislikes, routines and personalities. And trying to crack them is some of the most fun I've had with a game all year.

  • And now for something...COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. 2016 was a weird year for stress for me. I was unemployed for a decent chunk of it, but rather than taking refuge in chillout games, I took refuge IN stress games. Because it was a stress I could CONTROL, unlike the real stress. Darkest Dungeon is an RPG. It's a roguelike. It's a Lovecraftian nightmare in videogame form. But first and foremost? It is a stress management simulator. And yes, RNGsus will screw you over a LOT in this game, but that's part of the horrific glee. Yeah, you were ABOUT to beat that boss, but then your Vestal went crazy after whiffing a blow, and now she's Abusive, so when you tell her to heal a party member, she insults her instead! Which makes HER go crazier, and now SHE'S masochistic and slicing pieces off herself, and the cosmic nightmare is just sort of staring and wondering if it even HAS to fight you! And it's somehow FUN!

    Minimalist animation, a narrator who never gets old, even after 300 hours and a storyline that's JUST enough to keep you pushing into the depths of depravity into which your ancestor sunk. There are so many little things this game does right, but one of my favorites are inversions of "usual" RPG party members. You aren't staffing rogues, fighters and priests, you are housing Highwaymen, Hellions and Lepers. And Abominations. These are the kinds of people who would show up for a job like this, and they hate each other and you and everything, but they're here to get PAID. I love it. I've never loved a game's misanthropy so much because of how effortless and horrifying it is.

  • And now for something...completely different AGAIN. Dragonball Xenoverse was one of my favorite games last year, and its sequel only improves upon it. Thanks to Team Four Star and DBZ: Kai, I've rekindled a childlike wonder for the franchise, and these games scratch that itch PERFECTLY. They're the games that 13 year old Corey would have wept for joy over. "Oh, I can create my own character and travel time fixing what-if scenarios alongside Piccolo, Vegeta and Goku?! SIGN ME UP FOREVER!" Yeah, the gameplay's not perfect, it's not even GREAT, but it IS good. It's more an RPG than a fighting game, and I actually like that because it makes it easier to just zone out, do a few quests and call it a day as opposed to having to drill down and min/max and practice. I just wanna go Super Saiyan with my vegetable-themed character and kick some ass. This game lets me do it.

    It expanded on everything the first game was in creative ways, it got rid of a LOT of RNG bullshit from the first game, and goddamnit, I get to dress up a badass Saiyan lady as Imperator Furiosa. Two of my favorite things meeting in one game, and while the plot and setup may not be as strong as Xenoverse 1, I've sunk too many joyful hours into this to ignore it.

  • I know I mentioned being married before as a joke, but this game actually led to a VERY poignant conversation between my wife and I about what would happen if either of us lost our minds. That's some powerful stuff in a game that is FULL of powerful stuff. Exploring this world, getting to know Delilah, the unforced narrative between your two characters...I truly do adore the fact that you can either fall in love with her OR NOT! Or you can be totally platonic and make an amazing friend!

    And the ending...aaah, I love having my expectations turned on their head (have the previous 5 games indicated that heavily enough?) and having the "big reveal" of this game being what it was...I know it pissed a lot of people off, but I loved it. It was right and real and appropriate in a game that was all those things too.

  • Rip and tear. Until it is DONE. From second 1, DOOM is not fucking AROUND. The first thing your character does upon waking up is shove his thumb into a demon's eye socket and crush its skull on a goddamn slab of rock. That feeling and tone does not stop for the rest of the game. The only reason this Iron Maiden album cover come to life isn't higher on my list is because I didn't much care about the multiplayer and the campaign ends on a cliffhanger that may never be resolved since, as I understand it, the game didn't sell particularly well.

    Those are fair knocks against it, but what it has going for it is so much more. How it effortlessly characterizes Doom Marine as someone who has NO TIME for anyone's bullshit, who wants to murder demons and save humans at ALL costs, the small things this game does are underrated. From Doomslayer shoving aside an expository monitory, to him cracking his knuckles over human corpses as some jerk explains how what he did was "For the good of humanity," I've never loved a single-minded character more than I did in this game.

  • Let's get it out of the way now: I have not finished Furi. I am well over halfway through it, though, and I can't IMAGINE them dropping the ball so badly it makes me hate this game. But I do hate this game, in my own way. And it hates me RIGHT back. Much like the Souls games, Furi is the boot on your throat challenging you to knock it away. And when you do, there's only a bigger boot waiting for you. The style and presentation is glorious, this game is Dark Souls meets Shadow of the Colossus. It's just bosses and exposition, and both are done brilliantly.

    I still have no clue who my character is or why he found himself in the situation he did, but I DO know that he is an absolute badass that will claw and fight his way out of this prison and I don't know who this rabbit-head guy is or what the world outside looks like, but godDAMNIT, I will persevere and I will WIN!

    That's the tone this game strikes: you are constantly desperate. You're constantly clinging to that one shred of health so you can beat this STAGE of this boss and get back to equal footing...this game's styyyyyyyyyle and its presentation do so much, but its tight gameplay are what sets it apart. You never fail because the game is unfair, you fail because you are not worthy.

  • WEIRD, right? The only Hitman game I well and truly played was Hitman 2 and my most satisfying moment in that was murder a Yakuza boss by posing as a bodyguard and poisoning his sushi. No alarms. No needless kills. I just got it done. Every level in this new Hitman is like that. Only also: they are goofy as shit. I wound up dressed as a male model alone in a room with my target and, as I took out my pair of scissors, she declared, "Oh, you BETTER NOT-" as I threw them into her throat. WHAT A DUMB GAME! It's like one long joke that 47 isn't in on. Everything is so serious until the rubber meets the road, and it seems like the developers embraced that far more this time around.

    I'm never more happy to fail a situation than in this game: whether intentional or not. What a silly, wonderful, creative game...and the fact that it's going to be so well supported certainly helps!

  • What an odd year to return to Pokemon. Yet here I am...returning to Pokemon and oh my GOD, did you know you can PET them now? And feed them?! And the XP Share is a default item!? And...I always got a little miffed that this game left my experience, with Red, in the dust as it went on, but now? New creatures...I'm ready to love again. And love I do!

    It feels like this game made so many new and necessary changes, even out of the gate, that a commute warrior like me can STILL find plenty of adoration in this game. Also, I may have chosen Rowlett for tradition...but everyone knows: POPPLIO 4 LIFE!

  • Yeah, it's dripping in pop culture meme bullcrap. Yeah, the jokes fall flat more often than they hit. Yeah, the combat is entirely out of your hands. But godDAMNIT, there is something enormously satisfying about this game. Something I can't put my hands on. Something about training this guy up from nothing until he is LITERALLY using power armor to fight aliens and ninja turtle knockoffs and Rocky villains and DAMNIT, there's just SOMETHING under all the crap that shines like a diamond.

    I wanted to hate this game, and while I didn't wind up loving it, I wound up liking it JUST fine. It's a wonderful time filler and stat manager. And sometimes that's all you need.